Katie Wheeler is an MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the FoodCorps team in Kalispell, MT.
March was a big month for the Flathead Farm to School Program! We began building a hydroponic grow house at Somers Middle School; planted seed starts at Elrod Elementary School for the garden we are building in April; piloted a 5-week after school cooking and nutrition class at Edgerton Elementary School; began planning a BIG garden and food security focused event for Global Youth Service Day; and supplemented nutrition for students with extra fruit throughout the days of CRT state testing. Phew! April has a lot to live up to now!
  • With the help of Montana FoodCorps and Montana Conservation Corps, Robin Vogler, the Somers/Lakeside Food Service Director, is overseeing the building of a hydroponic grow house that will first provide lettuces and then many other delicious crops to her students. The best part is that Robin teaches a nutrition and cooking class, in which the students will be able to work in the new grow house as well as the school garden that was built by FoodCorps and MCC last summer!

Building the hydroponic grow house

  • Last week, fellow AmeriCorps member Lexi Gilbert and I worked with the Elrod Elementary 4th grade classes to plant starts for our school garden. We talked to the students about our vision for the garden, showed a time-lapse video of a seed germinating, and Lexi gave a great lesson about the plant cycle. The 4th grade curriculum already touches on plants, so it was a great opportunity to supplement their knowledge with hands-on work through planting the starts. We’ve got carrots, snap peas, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, chard, lettuce, and many other tasty treats coming our way this season!

  • In the first block of our new after school cooking and nutrition class, Colin Beveridge, a volunteer from Flathead Valley Community College, and I taught eight 5th graders how to make quinoa stuffed peppers, chocolate beet cupcakes, smoothies (with spinach!) and omelets, and lasagna with ricotta from scratch! The class was a great success with both the students and parents feeling grateful for the opportunity and we can’t wait to do it again!

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

  • For Global Youth Service Day on April 21st, Montana FoodCorps, Montana Academy, Montana Conservation Corps, Nourish the Flathead, and the Center for Restorative Youth Justice are partnering to put on an event at Flathead Valley Community College. The event is focused around opening up the Nourish the Flathead community garden, building raised beds for the Elrod Elementary garden, completing an art project and learning about food security in the Flathead Valley. We expect approximately 80-100 students to participate in this event!

Global Youth Service Day
March was a productive month for us and we cannot wait for all of these projects and programs to get further off the ground in the coming months!